New Police Commissioner Wanted Iceland To Ignore Int'l Law

New Police Commissioner Wanted Iceland To Ignore International Law

Published August 5, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Julia Staples

The newly-appointed Commissioner of the Capital Area Police, Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir, has gone on record saying Iceland should continue to ignore international law on the treatment of refugees.

As DV points out, last December, Sigríður – at the time Suðurnes chief of police – told magazine Nýtt Líf that she was opposed to a proposal from the Left-Greens to make numerous changes to the treatment of asylum seekers. Amongst the points she opposed was that Iceland stop arresting asylum seekers upon arrival in Iceland if they are found with falsified or expired documents.

However, this practice is in violation of international law. Specifically, Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, which states:

“The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.”

As reported, Pia Prytz Phiri, the Baltic and Nordic Regional Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has been very critical of Iceland ignoring this law.

“I want to make it very clear that [the UNHCR] considers this unjustifiable,” Pia told reporters last October. “It is plainly stated that you cannot punish refugees for illegally entering a country.”

Sigríður, who was appointed to her new position by Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, may end up having to continue investigations of her employer. This will be decided after the State Prosecutor finishes reviewing what police investigations of the ministry have uncovered so far.

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